Uses of Land for Agricultural Purposes
1) Production of crops: Land is used for the production of food crops like yam, rice, maize, cassava and cowpea as well as production of cash crops like cotton, rubber, cocoa and groundnut.
Importance or merits of crops production
- Provision of food e.g. maize, yam and cassava.
- It provides employment to many people. It provides income to farmers.
- It provides raw materials for industries, e.g ., cassava, maize, rubber and cocoa.
- It aids the development of towns where commercial agriculture is practised.
- Some crops are sources of foreign exchange for the nation.
2) Livestock production: Land is also used for natural grazing for livestock like cattle, sheep and goats. Large areas of land are set aside in savanna belts where there are abundant grasses for grazing by livestock.
Importance or merits of livestock
- Livestock provides food in form of protein, e.g. meat and eggs.
- It provides employment, e.g ., cattle rearers and poultry farmers.
- It provides feed for farm animals.
- It also provides hides and skin for making musical drums, belts and shoes.
- It can provide foreign exchange for the nation when livestock or its products are exported.
How Agricultural Land Appreciates in Value
- Farmland may appreciate in value through the following ways:
- Fertilization, manuring and living.
- Through reclamation and drainage Through fallowing.
- Proper cultivation methods, e.g crop rotation.
- Proper erosion control.
- Through rotational grazing.
3) Forestry: Land is used for forestry which involves the management of the forest and its resources for man’s use. Forest reserves are established where there is low pressure for cultivation or low population density, and where the land seems not to be suitable for agriculture.
Some forests are specially kept by government for specific purpose. Hence, they are called Forest reserves.
Some forest reserves in Nigeria are
- Mamu River Forest Reserve in Anambra State.
- Omo Forest Reserve in Ogun State. Afi River Forest Reserve in Cross-River State.
- Okomu Forest Reserve in Edo State.
- Anara Forest Reserve in Kaduna State.
- Shasha River Forest Reserve in Ogun State.
- Sakpoba Forest Reserve in Edo State.
- Zamfara Forest Reserve in Zamfara State.
- Sanga River Forest Reserve in Plateau State.
- Awba Hills Forest Reserve in Oyo State.
Importance or merits of forest
- Provision of food e.g. fruit, bush meat, etc.
- Provision of fuel e.g. fire wood.
- Provision of medicinal herbs.
- Provision of employment e.g. forest guards.
- Formation of rain.
- Prevention of soil erosion.
- Forest is the home of wild animals.
- Forest serves as tourist centres.
- Provision of foreign exchange for the nation.
- Provision of timber for furniture.
- Provision of pulp used for tissue and paper making.
- Forest beautifies the environment.
- Forest reduces atmospheric pollution by removing carbon dioxide and replacing it with oxygen.
4) Wildlife conservation: Land is also used for wildlife conservation. Wildlife refers to animals and birds found in the bush. Wildlife is conserved in game reserves which are centers of tourist attraction. Land which is not suitable for agriculture and forestry may be used for game reserve, located in sparsely populated areas. Game reserves are places where wild animals are conserved to avoid extinction while they are carefully and wisely exploited.
Poaching or the indiscriminate killing of animals in a game reserve should be prohibited.
Also, forest fires, fishing with chemicals should be avoided.
Examples of game reserves in Nigeria are:
- Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State.
- Kainji National Park in Kogi State.
- Zugurman Game Reserve in Niger State.
- Borgu Game Reserve in Kwara State.
Some animals conserved in game reserves include: elephants, tigers, lions, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, snakes, leopards, birds and turtles.
Importance or merits of wildlife/ game reserves:
- Wildlife is hunted to provide meat for food.
- Game reserves are centres of tourism.
- Game reserves provide employment to many people.
- Game reserves also generate income for the government.
- Hides and skin from wildlife like zebra, giraffe and tiger are useful for domestic purposes.
- Prevention of wild life from extinction.
- Promotion of education and research works on wildlife.
- Encouragement of micro-climate of a locality with respect to rainfall.
5) Fishery: Some portion of land is set aside for the production of fish through fish farming. It involves the establishment of fish ponds where fishes are reared artificially to provide the necessary sources of protein and income for the people.
Importance or merits of fish farming
- It provides fish which serves as a source of food (i.e. protein) to man and livestock.
- It provides a means of increasing the availability of protein to people at a reduced cost.
- It provides a means of recycling wastes e.g.animal dungs from farms, factories and sewage-disposal system.
- Fish can be processed into fish by-products such as fish meal, fish oil and skin.
- It provides employment and income to many people.
- A better use of land and water in our environment is also ensured through fish farming.
Uses of Land for Non-Agricultural Purposes
- Residential purpose (e.g. Housing): This involves the use of land for the construction of residential houses and buildings. It also involves the development of towns, housing estates and all other forms of settlements. In urban areas, a large proportion of land is needed for the construction of residential buildings.
- Transportation: Land is also used for construction of many forms of roads, railway line as well as airports. Transportation by road alone constitutes one of the uses of land, especially in urban areas.
- Mining: Land where minerals are found are used for mining. In Nigeria, most of the land where petroleum, coal, tin and other minerals are located are used mainly for mining purposes.
- Industrial purpose: Industries are also located on land. Majority of the industries are located in industrial estates which constitute a large proportion of urban land.
Other non-agricultural Uses of Land include:
- Sport centres e.g stadia, race course and golf course.
- Educational purpose, e.g schools.
- Worship places, e.g churches, mosques and shrines.
- Commercial purposes, e.g banks and warehouses.
FACTORS AFFECTING LAND AVAILABILITY FOR AGRICULTURAL PURPOSES
Many factors affect land availability and uses in Nigeria. These factors directly or indirectly determine whether land will be available for agricultural and non-agricultural purposes. These factors include:
- Ecological Factors: The nature of the land determine whether such land will be available for agricultural purposes or not. A dry and not swampy land will be suitable for livestock farming while a wet and swamp lands will be good for swamp rice production.
- Population Density or Population Growth: The higher the population, the lower the availability of land for agriculture and vice versa.
- Rate of Growth of the Population: The lower the rate of growth of a population, the more the land availability for farming purposes high population growth lead to land fragmentation.
- Climatic Conditions: Wet and raining conditions favours tree crops production while dry climate with little rains favour livestock production like goat, sheep and cattle.
- Topography of Slope of the Land: Flat or gentle slope of the land encourages farming while steep slope of the land discourages farming because of the effect of gully erosion.
- Socio-cultural Factors: Some cultural factors may forbid the rearing of certain animals e.g. the Islam religion forbid the rearing of pigs in the environment.
- Economic Factors: Availability of good capital or finance promote agricultural activities while inadequate finance discourages intensive farming.
- Prevalent Land Tenure System: The type of land tenure practice in area will determine whether such land will be available or not for agricultural purposes.
- Fertility Status of the Land/Soil Type: Fertile soils are generally known to support agricultural activities whereas, poor as infertile soils do not support crop farming.
- Degree of Land Degradation: The level of land degradation will determine whether such land will be available for agricultural purposes. Land that are prone to erosion will not be suitable for farming.